2008-07-31 / Community

Mac and Alice Stelle honored

By Stephanie Bertholdo bertholdo@theacorn.com

STEPHANIE BERTHOLDO/Acorn Newspapers FRIENDS—Mac and Alice Stelle, right, receive their Citizen of the Month award from water district board president Joe Bowman. STEPHANIE BERTHOLDO/Acorn Newspapers FRIENDS—Mac and Alice Stelle, right, receive their Citizen of the Month award from water district board president Joe Bowman. Alice C. Stelle and her husband, Macneil (Mac) Stelle, were honored on July 22 by the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District's board of directors as "Citizens of the Month." The Stelles were the first people to receive the honor, part of the district's yearlong observation of its 50th anniversary, General Manager John Mundy said.

The Stelles, who now live in Thousand Oaks, were instrumental in the founding of the water district, which became a legal entity through a vote by residents in 1958. Mac Stelle served on the LVMWD board of directors and helped the agency build services and programs through its formative years. Alice Stelle, 86, was involved in numerous outreach activities during the creation of the district.

"It is most fitting that our first honorees as 'Citizen of the Month' are Mac and Alice Stelle," said Joseph Bowman, president of the district's board of directors. "Together, in the 1950s, they saw a pressing need for reliable water. That vision was shared by others, and soon a committee came into existence that ultimately resulted in the creation of this agency."

Alice Stelle was also instrumental in founding Las Virgenes Unified School District in the early 1960s. Besides working to unify the school district, she helped convince residents to vote for a bond to build its first high school. She was appointed to the first school board and served four additional terms. Alice C. Stelle Middle School in Calabasas was named in her honor.

"It was a big surprise, and I'm very pleased with it," said Mac Stelle about the honor. "I'm very pleased with it."

Alice Stelle remembered the early days with fondness and marveled at the agency's growth. Building a new corporate headquarters, she said, was a "big change—sitting in a building like this when it started in a shacky little house in Agoura." The early meetings, she said, were conducted in the real estate office of Elizabeth Hughes.

She called the creation of the water district was a "group effort," and she wished the other people who were instrumental in the effort were "here to enjoy it like we have."

"The community was forever changed by the actions of these two very remarkable individuals," Mundy said. "It is most fitting that they are the first honorees in the observation of our 50 years of service to the community."

Mundy noted that the water district was founded "because of drought and scarce local supplies."

"It's ironic that some 50 years later we again have drought conditions. We're hoping the community will demonstrate the same spirit Mac and Alice Stelle showed in overcoming the many challenges in securing water for our region," Mundy said.

Bowman remembered when he first met Mac Stelle. He said he worked with Stelle on the creation of the water reservoir in Westlake Village 38 years ago.

"I reminded Mac how tough he was on me," he aid.

"For Mac and Alice, the future is now," Bowman said. "Fifty years ago they had a vision, and half a century later that vision makes a positive impact every single day in nearly 21,000 homes and businesses in our service area."

The Stelles raised five children and were foster parents to several teenagers over the years.

Each month through June 2009, the water district board will recognize "outstanding citizens" who have demonstrated leadership in the fields of conservation, education, community involvement and watershed stewardship.

Las Virgenes Municipal Water District serves a population of 65,000 in the cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village and adjacent unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

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